Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Baby steps are better than nothing

The death penalty is quite simply the worst thing we as a people do. It is the most intentional, premeditated, pointless of killings. It is costly and unnecessary. It confuses vengeance with justice. It brings out the very worst in people.

My dream for my life is to see the end of the death penalty in this country. Sometimes, that dream feels very far away. It has certainly seemed very far of late, as all the news is from states desperate to speed up the process, find ways around drug shortages, do whatever it takes to get down to killing already.

I'll take any little scrap of good news I can get. Today brought this from the state of Washington. Governor John Inslee let it be known that there would be no executions on his watch. “During my term we will not be executing people.”

It's not a terribly big step, when you think about it. He didn't clear Washington's death row, a la the now-disgraced-but-always-a-hero-to-me former governor of Illinois. He didn't introduce a repeal bill. But he did say he's not sure about this punishment. He did take the pressure off Washington's defenders a bit. And he did say maybe Washingtonians should have a discussion about whether this is really the right policy for their state.

I guarantee you that the death penalty defense bar in that state is having a better night tonight than their compatriots in any other death penalty state. Kinda wish I were in Seattle tonight.

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